Arriving only a year after its predecessor, there’s a finger of suspicion being pointed at Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 (GRAW 2), namely that its hasty arrival broadly hints at an undercooked game.
In fact, reading between the lines of the various interviews the developers have given, last year’s original GRAW was the one that needed a little more time in the oven, as soundbites have suggested that this is the game they wanted to make first time around. Given the bugs and strange flaws that hindered the otherwise fine GRAW 1, that’s perhaps unsurprising.
And credit where credit’s due, GRAW 2 is an improvement. Visually, for instance, it’s been polished to a higher standard, while some of the questionable artificial intelligence has also undergone welcome and necessary improvement. Given that it’s the Xbox 360 version we’re testing here – a PC edition is following shortly – it also looks like a more assured next generation game.
Beyond the spit and polish there have been some appropriate gameplay improvements, too. Most of these are centred around the new CrossCom 2.0 system of control which, given the game remains a squad-based tactical action title, makes a genuine difference. Controlling your squad is easier and you now have the option to see in the top of your screen what your selected squad member is seeing. It really helps a lot.
The option to check out what someone else is seeing also applies to the flying drone that you can deploy to scope out enemy territory, while a land-based Mule vehicle has also been introduced. The Mule is a fairly versatile beast, too. It can be sent unmanned into unknown grounds and also act as a weapons stash.
You can use it for cover purposes, too, although it will eventually give up the ghost if subjected to too much enemy fire. Nonetheless, it opens up an extra avenue to some of the game’s missions. Other additions, such as the new Medic class of soldier and the option to call on air strikes, for instance, do no harm either.
But here’s the big problem. There aren’t actually many missions to work through, and for a full price title GRAW 2 is very short by anyone’s standards. Add the fact that the core gameplay itself hasn’t radically altered, and there’s a big question mark in the value for money column. It’s somewhat redeemed by some super online elements, which were arguably the highlight of GRAW 1, but the single player experience is disappointingly brief.
GRAW 2 does, in its favour, fix key problems and try a few new things, but a radical sequel this absolutely isn’t. It’s a steady, unspectacular advance with a few good ideas, but not nearly enough to justify the full £50 asking price. It’s worth buying, just not at anything more than half that price.